A Democratic blog claims Republican state Rep. Ernie Leidiger "owes over $144,000 in overdue state and federal taxes and has three separate tax liens filed against him."
Leidiger, a freshman representative from Mayer, has not returned repeated phone calls from the Star Tribune for comment either last week or Monday.
But late Monday, Leidiger released a statement saying that he has a "payment plan in place with the state to pay off our remaining tax liability and am in negotiations with the federal government to do the same."
He also blamed his non-payment of taxes for his office furniture business on a sagging economy.
"My office furniture business was successful for almost five years, employing 30 people with sales that grew every year, reaching almost $2.5 million at its height in 2008. Our business was closely linked to commercial real estate, so when that market faltered, so did ours. Things were looking good by the middle of 2009, only to crater again," he said. In 2011, he said, the business closed and they laid off all 30 employees.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, Monday said that as Leidiger's business failed, he also "accepted a $500,000 federal small business loan."
"Leidiger, like his Republican legislative colleagues, spent the last two years railing against government at all levels. It comes as a surprise to find out that Leidiger's business happily took half a million dollars in taxpayer support in 2009," Thissen said. "Rep. Leidiger owes an immediate explanation to his constituents and to the millions of small businesses and families across Minnesota who play by the rules every day, year after year."
Leidiger won his 2010 race with 65 percent of the vote in his heavily Republican district.